Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Road Back by Erich Maria Remarque

The Road Back (1931)

by Erich Maria Remarque

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
326834,071 (4.23)7



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 7 mentions

English (6)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All (8)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I read All Quiet on the Western Front by this author last year and I thought it was possibly one of the best books about World War I that I had ever read. This book continues the story of the young German men that survived the war. In its own way it is as moving as All Quiet.

The young German boys who enlisted at the behest of their teacher are no longer the callow youths who went to war. They have seen too much, killed too much, experienced too much to ever happily return to ordinary civilian life. They don't know how to be with people who were not soldiers and they can't continue to stay with their mates. Each one of them suffers from what we would now call PTSD. Quite a few have physical disablities. The young men who went to war don't know what to do. Additionally, Germany is faced with rampant inflation and most people can't find work. Some may not survive peace. ( )
1 vote gypsysmom | May 12, 2017 |
This is a sequel to the author's more famous First World War novel All Quiet on the Western Front, about the experiences of a company of German troops in the trenches. In this novel, published a couple of years later in 1931, a mostly different group of soldiers attempt to come to terms with the end of the war and to re-assimilate into civilian life. We often hear of English Tommies that they failed on their return to find a "country fit for heroes", and the same goes for the German soldiers here ("We imagined that people would be waiting for us, expecting us; now we see that already every one is taken up with his own affairs. Life has moved on, is still moving on; it is leaving us behind almost as if we were superfluous already."). They meet incomprehension and an utterly different mindset from those on the Home Front, who can't begin to understand what the soldiers have seen and experienced, the horrors of seeing mates blown up and dying through shrapnel wounds, but also the comradeship, mutual support and sense of a shared mission that dictated the course of their life for four years ("I am quite unable to realize that now I must stay here in the family for good. I still have the feeling that to-morrow, or maybe the next day, but surely sometime, we shall be marching again, side by side, cursing or resigned, but all together."). Many of those at home (but not the soldiers' mothers) see the war as an exciting period for those young men, and the narrative is already becoming a simple heroic one for some young people. The consequences are grim for the soldiers: marriage problems, hallucinations and mental health problems, acts of violence, up to and including killing, and a suicide. All this takes place against the backdrop of the shortlived German Socialist Republic that replaced the Empire for about a year after the war ended, but these soldiers show little interest in politics, concerned with trying to establish a new identity in a world that has become alien to them, and they to it. A powerful read, if not quite up there with its predecessor. ( )
1 vote john257hopper | Nov 15, 2016 |
This book is kind of a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front, although most of the characters are different. It begins just as World War I is ending. The German soldiers at the front have to march from France back into Germany and make their way back to their homes as best they can. When they arrive, they are faced with the nearly impossible task of adjusting to life as civilians after spending years in the trenches. Those left alive at the end of the war have learned to be expert soldiers (they wouldn't be alive otherwise), but their years of fighting and killing hasn't taught them anything about how to live a normal life. This novel is about how they learn to adjust or, in some cases, what happens when they don't.

It's been a long time since I read All Quiet on the Western Front, but I remember being blown away by it. I wasn't blown away by this one, but it was very good. There were several times when I found myself reading too quickly and had to go back and take a passage slower in order to absorb everything. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Remarque's other books. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
The Road Back, although less well known than All Quiet on the Western Front, is just as thought-provoking and, in some subtle ways, even more heart-breaking.

The story begins during the last few days of WWI. As the final battles surge around them, a group of young German soldiers contemplate what peace will be like and dream of returning home with both hope and fear. They grieve for comrades who will not be returning with them but anticipate the joys of being back with friends and family.

When the war finally ends and they head home, they anticipate a hero's welcome but, instead encounter only indifference and misunderstanding. Those who have not gone to war have continued their lives without them and, from their perspective, nothing has changed. It is these young men who have changed and they no longer fit into this world. They had left home as boys, hardly more than children, with all the dreams and joys of youth; they are returning as men, old before their time, damaged both physically and psychically and they cannot understand how the world, their world, can be so different from what they remembered.

Their families and friends cannot understand these changes in them - how can they - and so they expect them to behave as they did before. At one point, Ernst, the narrator of the story, swears in front of his mother, something he would never have done before. She is 'pale and horrified' and he tries to explain:

" 'Our language was a bit rough out there, mother, I know - Rough but honest...Soldiers are always like that.'

'Yes, yes, I know,' she protests, 'but you - you too.' "

Ernst realizes that, to his mother, the war had meant "only a pack of wild beasts threatening the life of her child...It had never occurred to her that this same threatened child has been just such another wild beast to the children of yet other mothers."

All of the young men who have returned with Ernst feel lost. They don't fit in and they are unable to settle down. They suffer from shell-shock and depression. Wives have taken lovers, jobs are already occupied by those who stayed back, and they no longer respect those who used to have authority over them - school teachers, parents, police. They cannot break the habits they developed to survive in the trenches, they steal to eat even though food is available, they have flash backs, jumping at every loud noise, and they have nightmares. Things which had seemed so important before seem pointless now and there are no new dreams to replace them. One of Ernst's companions reenlists, seeking the companionship they had enjoyed during the war only to discover it no longer exists in a peacetime army, for another, the solution lies in revolution, only to be killed by the same soldiers he once called friends, for some, suicide is the only answer, and for a very few, including Ernst, the answer lies in nature where, finally, true peace is found.

The Road back is, possibly the hardest, the most gut-wrenching book I have ever read. It is a must-read for anyone, whether pro or anti war, who really wants to understand the effects that war has on young soldiers. ( )
3 vote lostinalibrary | Jul 8, 2011 |
Indrukwekkend boek over de problemen van de herintegratie in de burgermaaatschappij van gedemobiliseerde Duitse soldaten ( )
  23archiefdingen | Oct 14, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erich Maria Remarqueprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wheen, Arthur WesleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Der Rest des zweiten Zuges liegt in einem zerschossenen Grabenstück hinter der Front und döst.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449912469, Paperback)

The sequel to the masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front, The Road Back is a classic novel of the slow return of peace to Europe in the years following World War I.

After four grueling years, the Great War has finally ended. Now Ernst and the few men left from his company cannot help wondering what will become of them. The town they departed as eager young men seems colder, their homes smaller, the reasons their comrades had to die even more inexplicable.

For Ernst and his friends, the road back to peace is more treacherous than they ever imagined. Suffering food shortages, political unrest, and a broken heart, Ernst undergoes a crisis that teaches him what there is to live for—and what he has that no one can ever take away.

“The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first rank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure.”—The New York Times Book Review

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In a sequel to " All quiet on the Western Front," Ernst and the few survivors of his company return home after the war to find food in short supply and their families changed.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
1 avail.
23 wanted
3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.23)
2 1
3 3
3.5 4
4 27
4.5 5
5 18

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,106,247 books! | Top bar: Always visible